The Professional Fighters League (PFL), the fastest growing and most innovative sports league, is set for its first Regular Season event of 2022 this Wednesday, April 20 on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN+. Fighters across the lightweight and light heavyweight divisions will look to make a strong first impression and earn valuable points in their divisional standings
PFL 1 begins at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN+ (English and Spanish) then the action continues on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (Spanish) and will be simulcast on ESPN+ at 9 p.m. ET.
Clay Collard and Jeremy Stephens will headline the 10-fight slate in what will surely be a firefight between a pair of sluggers intent on earning bonus points for an early stoppage. Collard is out to avenge a razor-thin semifinal loss to eventual champion Raush Manfio, a decision he wholeheartedly disagreed with. The boxing and MMA standout will take on former UFC lightweight Jeremy Stephens. A fellow KO-artist, Stephens has his name etched in the UFC record books with 34 fights (4th most), 10 fight night bonuses (10th most) and 18 knockdowns (tied 2nd most).
2021 Lightweight Champion Manfio returns in hopes of claiming a second crown. The Cinderella story the Brazilian authored in going 4-0 en route to earning his first major title was as heartwarming as it was unthinkable. He began the season as a 100-1 underdog to win the title but emerged as not only the champion but as one of the best lightweights in the world. He’ll take on South African newcomer Don Madge in a battle of top contenders for the 2022 title. Madge made his PFL debut in 2021 in a showcase fight that ended in a 2nd round submission and set him up as one of the new fighters to watch in the PFL’s lightweight division. Madge came to the PFL after a 2-0 stint in the UFC.
Antonio Carlos Jr. returns to the PFL Light Heavyweight division in hopes of locking up a second title after his impressive run to the 2021 championship. The Brazilian known as Shoeface went undefeated in his first PFL campaign, capping it off with a $1M rear naked choke of Marthin Hamlet that cemented his place atop the 205-pound division. He will take on fellow Brazilian Delan Monte who comes to the PFL on a three-fight win streak. Monte was a Judo coach and training partner of Carlos Jr.’s early in their careers.
Two-time PFL Lightweight Champion Natan Schulte will face off with “The Canadian Gangster” Olivier Aubin-Mercier to round out the main card. Schulte claimed the first two PFL lightweight titles before watching his best friend Manfio take home last year’s crown. He’ll be looking to become the first three-time champ in 2022. The Brazilian’s first hurdle will be long-time Georges St. Pierre training partner and 12-fight UFC veteran Aubin-Mercier. Aubin-Mercier will be looking to make his first playoff berth after coming up just short when an injury limited him to just one fight during the 2021 Season.
Calling the live action will be play-by-play announcer and former world champion, Sean O’Connell. He’ll be joined by Hall-of-Famer and MMA legend Randy Couture and one of the most popular MMA personalities today, Kenny Florian.
ESPN and ESPN Deportes Card (simulcast on ESPN+)
Clay Collard vs. Jeremy Stephens
Raush Manfio vs. Don Madge
Antonio Carlos Jr. vs. Delan Monte
Natan Schulte vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier
Emiliano Sordi vs. Cory Hendricks
Alexander Martinez vs. Stevie Ray
Marthin Hamlet vs. Teodoras Aukstuolis
Omari Akhmedov vs. Viktor Pesta
Robert Wilkinson vs. Bruce Souto
Simeon Powell vs. Clinton Williams (Showcase bout)
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Founder, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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